It is clear that Burgess Hill town centre is dying/has died. It is true that for a few short hours on a Saturday morning the town is moderately busy with people food shopping in Waitrose/Lidl/Iceland etc... but apart from the necessities of life, there really isn’t any other reason to be in the town centre.
A key barometer for this has to be the council car park by McDonald’s – when I first moved to Burgess Hill 20+ years ago this car park was consistently full on a Saturday; nowadays this is less than 25 per cent occupied on a Saturday.
We have a huge number of boarded up shops, we are also swamped with estate agents, fast food shops and charity shops.
We are told that the redevelopment will provide greater options for shopping and leisure; despite the hype and promises all we have to see so far is a mass of closed shops and a temporary mobile phone mast.
Both the council and NewRiver are in danger of losing all credibility; we have all heard the PR saying that it will all be fantastic when completed but the longer it continues with little tangible proof of change; the greater the concern must be that there will be a re-evaluation of the project and that we will be left with a desolate town centre without any improvements.
We need to see a clear update with agreed timelines - our town is dying.
The other option is that we accept that Burgess Hill town centre cannot compete for footfall with Brighton, accept that the retail environment in Burgess Hill cannot be redeemed; the council and New River scrap the shop related redevelopment and only look at improving the leisure facilities. This may be the key to improving the prosperity of the town.
Henry Burt Way